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fiver451 [userpic]

A Word Game

October 22nd, 2011 (08:12 am)

current location: home base
current mood: pleased
current song: ticking of clock and road noise

I have thought up a little game. It's based on a word game originally created by Bertrand Russel the British philosopher. The humor rests on the human tendency towards leniency when judging ourselves and our friends as opposed to others, My little wrinkle on this is that it has to be in haiku form. It's probably way too simple but I like it. I call it "Me?"

To whit:

Me? I'm worldly wise. 
You've an eye for the women. 
He's sex obsessed.

Me? Just a gourmand. 
You over eat too often. 
He's just gluttonous.

Me? I'm passionate!
You get enthusiastic. 
He's hyper as hell!

Me? I'm successful.
You've handled your money well.
He's a real cheapskate. 

Me? A collector. 
You've a problem with clutter. 
She's a real hoarder.

fiver451 [userpic]

meeting cancer after class

October 4th, 2011 (03:03 am)

current location: my cave
current mood: shocked
current song: the clock ticking

This evening as we left class, I asked Kathy (a woman in my class) how her leg was.

When I had first asked her about her absences from class two weeks ago she had bluntly told me it was none of my business.  Since then we had spent several hours working together in the studio. Initially because I was willing to model for her and her obsessive eye for detail motivated me to improve my documentation when I took photographs for class.

To our mutual surprise, we found that we worked well together. Comfortable with each others approach to photography, we soon found that we brainstormed well together and got more done together than on our own.

Perhaps because of that I was bold enough to ask what was wrong with her leg and she was open enough to tell me.


I honestly don't know why that hit me so hard. Perhaps it was the fact that Dennis, a friend of mine, was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few weeks ago. Won't know until next week how bad it is. Perhaps it was the fear and anger in Kathy's voice when she said that word. She went on to say they cut the tumor out a week ago and that the doctor thinks he got it all. But that nobody knows for sure yet .

Perhaps because it reminds me I am not immortal.

No matter why, I was left speechless. And helpless. There certainly were no words to say that would make her feel less afraid. And, being as independent as she seems to be, she probably doesn't want to be treated as "weak". 

When I see her in class on Wednesday I will not bring it up and will treat her as I did before I knew she has cancer. I saw in the past weeks how much she loves photography. It helps her keep her fears at bay I think.

Far be it from me to screw that up for her. .

fiver451 [userpic]

There is no debate. There is only two ideologies yelling at each other.

August 5th, 2011 (01:44 am)

current location: the corner of Main & Mishawaka
current mood: distressed
current song: "Semper Fidelis" Mark Isham

 On Tuesday 8/2/11 the New York Times carried an article "Are Your Political Opponents Crazy?" by Gary Gutting.. This article names the essence of the forces polarizing political dialogue in this country today. .Sadly it is not some vast conspiracy on either the Left or the Right.  The problem lies in the very structure of our brains. We do not "think" linearly. We "think"by association. To stop the hysteria we must find a way to trust one another to glimpse what the other sees that frightens them so.    

Otherwise we are facing a crisis of a kind seen only twice before: in the 1850s and the 1920s. One brought us to the Civil War and the other brought us to the brink of a military coup in 1933. (It never came to pass only because the plotters picked the wrong general to be their strongman. He was a patriot not a patsy.) 
Does anyone want to guarantee that we will be so lucky a second time? 
I'd rather work to avoid such a crisis.

fiver451 [userpic]

rejection, dejection, and discouragement

March 17th, 2011 (08:54 am)

current location: home base
current mood: crushed
current song: none

 Voc Rehab turned down my application. 

I am literally sick to my stomach. 

I think I'll kick a can down the street and then go back to bed.


fiver451 [userpic]

random thoughts

March 14th, 2011 (04:54 am)
current location: my cube
current mood: awake
current song: none

Another night I can't sleep, so I might as well put it to *ahem* good use!

After having had cataract surgery on my right eye back in December I  went to order new glasses three weeks ago. Paid for them and was told the opticians would have them ready for pickup in "ten business days." HA! I finally got them last Friday. My prescription had changed. Really changed. Like lots. The view in the right eye is larger than in the left eye. One and half times larger. I feel like Calvin in a world without perspective. I was assured I will get used to them. Eventually. As for reading with them; for now I'll stick to my 2X magnifiers from CVS,

Occupational Hazards Dept.:
 At IUSB tonight I ran into a woman who occasionally attends the open studio I model for. She looked at me and said, "Who are , , ,? (pause) Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't recognize you with clothes on." I'm  glad we weren't standing in line at Starbucks.

fiver451 [userpic]

Me, My Family, and Dogs

February 18th, 2011 (06:24 pm)

current location: at my PC
current mood: nostalgic
current song: street noise

Near this spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity, 
and all the virtues of men without his vices.

This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human ashes, 
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
who was born in Newfoundland in 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18, 1808

                                                          Lord Byron

I cannot say that my parents were as enamored of their offspring as they were of their pets. To say they doted on the many dogs they had over the years  would probably be true. This led one observer to make the trenchant remark, "This is the only house I've been in where people are treated like dogs and dogs like people!" Which was quite true. So much so that when I first heard the phrase "a dog's life" I could not understand why it meant a wretched existence. As far as I was concerned, they had it pretty good. 

One might reasonably think that as a result I would hate dogs with a passion to this day. However, that is not so. I am crazy about canis lupus familiaris. A well trained and socialized dog (like a well trained and socialized child) is a joy to behold and be with. These creatures have as varied personalities as their owners, though somewhat moderated by which breed they belong to. 

In my lifetime my parents have owned cocker spaniels, miniature dachshunds, a Labrador retriever, an Irish water spaniel, a Sealyham terrier, and assorted mutts.  All of which I have personally been fond of and occasionally came to love. However, one breed has a firm lock on my affections to such an extent that I could be said to be nuts over it

The Newfoundland.

The easiest way to describe one is by saying, "Take a St. Bernard and paint it black.". (Even though Newfs can range in color from  black to gray to brown to particolored like the above mentioned St. Bernard.) I've written about them before but the chance encounter with the entry in Wkipedia on the breed has once again made me yearn to own one or two or three.......You get the picture. 

The entry in Wikipedia is a gold mine of information, from kennel club standards in the UK, Canada, and the US to famous Newfs, real and imagined. (Did you know that Nana, the children's dog in "Peter Pan" was based on J. M. Barrie's own Newf and that one real Newf serving with Canadian forces in the Pacific in WWII was given the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.)

When I lived at home my parents had only two Newfs, Sam and Teddy. They were the opposite ends of the breeding standards.

Sam was the classic "little bear" version: GIGANTIC (as in 200+ lbs.), domed head,  and bronze eyed. Sitting in a Volkswagen bug with his head through the sunroof Sam looked like the tank drivers in the Ugandan army. My track coach once stopped by and went into an absolute panic when Sam ambled up and casually put his paws on the car window sill and stuck his head in to give him a kiss. Huge as he was Sam had no desire to roam and was perfectly content to sit in the garden eating my mother's fake geraniums. Unfortunately, like many "classic" Newfs, Sam had hip dysplasia. He had to be put down before he was 18 months old. 

Teddy was the polar opposite in appearance: the runt of the litter with a bum right front leg. He had a flat head, was as wide as he was tall, and barely broke 100 lbs.  But beloved, OMG so very beloved! Unlike Sam, Teddy loved to roam the neighborhood. Endowed with a personality like that of a slightly sedated Labrador (all the friendliness without all the bounciness) he loved people and people loved him.  From the school teachers who called my mother to come and get him from the playground before the dog catcher showed up to to the cops who periodically did show up and invited him into their patrol cars for a ride to the pound (he loved to ride in cars) to all the neighborhood children. All knew him by name and he knew them all. 

Two stories about his relationship with children:

One summer afternoon my mother heard steps on the gravel driveway by the house. Not unusual. We kids came and went at all hours. What got her attention was a small voice saying, "Give it back, Teddy. Give it back." Peering out the window she saw a playful Teddy with a tiny shoe in his mouth, the owner of which was following behind. Teddy was wagging his tail and had an impish gleam in his eye as my mother came out to liberate the small boy's shoe and send him on his way home. 

One early autumn afternoon my mother looked out across the street to see a girl cutting across a field on her way home from school. Coming the other other way was Teddy,  on the hunt for dangerous felons and playful children (though not necessarily in that order). The girl froze, obviously unfamiliar with this large black dog. Teddy stopped just beyond her reach and flopped down on his belly, eyes fixed on the girl. Silence. Stillness. Then he wagged. Stopped. then wagged again. Stopped. The girl slowly stepped closer. He wagged again, faster than before. She came closer still. He wagged even faster. So it went until she finally gently petted him. At which his tail thumped back and forth in unalloyed happiness. But that was all. Sensitive to her fear, Teddy remained still  until he knew she was no longer afraid. The encounter ended with the girl continuing her walk home and Teddy walking his beat happy in the knowledge he had made a new friend. 

But more importantly to me, Teddy was my bud.  I can't tell you when or how or even why, but over the years he and I grew attached to each other. In such a way that when I received word at school that Teddy had had to be put down I went into shock.  I didn't cry, but I dreamed about that dog for weeks.  I can't remember the dreams now but i am sure they were my way of saying goodbye to someone very dear to me. 

fiver451 [userpic]

Valentine's Day

February 9th, 2011 (12:10 pm)

current location: home
current mood: cynical
current song: "Take Me Home" Phil Collins

Next week is Valentine's Day. Florists will do a land rush business and chocolatiers will sell heart-shaped boxes by the thousands. All in the effort to make a grand gesture of affection.

 In my old age (or old fogyism -- depending on your viewpoint) I have become deeply suspicious of such grand gestures.

Most grand gestures create the desired effect. I happen to be lousy at creating them. I know that and for most of my life have envied those capable of pulling such feats off.     

However, in the past few years I encountered enough unintended irony at such events to give me a jaundiced view.

To wit:

-- After a coworker's funeral I watched as his widow and children walked arm in arm out of the church singing hymns. It was a breathtaking demonstration of family unity and religious faith. However, I knew well enough that a bitter struggle over his estate had already broken among these very same people and that one half of them hated the other half,

-- At a dinner for a friend of mine's birthday, his brother (who had organized the event)  stood up and gave a toast that was as touching a statement of brotherly love as could have been written by Shakespeare himself. However, within six months the birthday boy discovered that his brother was stealing from him. . 

The gesture may make us all feel good about ourselves but it also may have nothing to do with reality. 

Far more impressive is the act of service or love repeated day in and day out.  

fiver451 [userpic]

A somber but ultimately thankful day

December 2nd, 2010 (12:01 am)

current location: At My Desk
current mood: thoughtful
current song: Christmas carols

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 Recently I bought a cassette  player from a cash starved friend. My initial plan was to play recovery tapes on it. However, yesterday I dug out my old cassette tapes from storage . .  and found a homemade cassette from what were possibly the darkest days of my life. They began almost twenty years ago to the day.  I had a complete psychological breakdown and was institutionalized in a very suicidal state.

I spent the next forty days in a psyche ward.  Outside the Christmas and New Year's holidays came and went. Meanwhile inside  the ward and  myself, I began a long and dark journey through flashbacks and dreams both mysterious and terrifying.  

This song became a lifeline for me, assuring me that Hate was not strong enough to destroy me, no matter what the flashbacks and dreams said.

A generation has passed and, while bowed at times, I still stand.  

There are no victory parades for people struggling with PTSD. No medals. No monuments. But I will take a moment to remember my fellow "inmates" who accepted me with that total acceptance known only to those inside.  ( A good friend once said that any trace of racism he had from his upbringing vanished while sharing a psyche ward with some very kind and strong black men and women.) I will pause and think of the nurses who held my hand when the flashbacks were overwhelming an encouraged me to take care of myself whether by beating a punching bag with a baseball bat or working my way through Courage to Heal. I will pause to think of the psychiatrist who defied the demands of the insurance companies to honor his Hippocratic oath and thereby probably saved my life. 

The building I spent  in the desert of mental illness stands vacant now, shuttered by the changes in insurance coverage and the medical "marketplace". The dedicated nurses and other professionals are scattered to the four winds.  Sometimes I wonder if it would be possible to create another institution so uniquely suited to deal with PTSD induced by childhood trauma. Sometimes I think, "No. This was a once in a lifetime gift, and you got it."

Te Deum laudamus . . . .
To You, Oh God, we give thanks . . . .

fiver451 [userpic]

federal budget

November 10th, 2010 (01:22 pm)

current location: Home
current mood: aggravated
current song: Everyday - The Cinematic Orchestra

It's about time somebody spoke sensibly about the federal budget.

This guy does!


fiver451 [userpic]

One Lucky Guy

November 4th, 2010 (03:30 pm)

current location: home
current mood: thoughtful
current song: The Cinematic Orchestra

Two days ago I overslept for an appointment. I threw some clothes on and charged out the door to discover FROST ON THE WINDSHIELD!! Normally this is no big deal but since this was my first encounter with frost for the season I had a problem. I couldn't find the scraper. After a few minutes muttering fiery oaths at the frozen phenomenon whilst rummaging through the trunk, I gave up looking and raced to the convenience store across the street.

The street in front of my micro-cube has been under reconstruction since August. That morning the south bound side consisted of level dirt ringed by re-bar. I jumped over the rope marking the work zone, raced across the dirt and tried to leap to the sidewalk on the opposite side. My left foot, however, caught the rope and I went down in a heap, landing on a piece of steel.

OUCH! my left side felt like I had been hit with a hammer. I briefly looked down to see if I had a hole on my jacket or was obviously bleeding. Nope. Then, being very single minded sometimes, I picked myself up and wobbled into the store to buy my scraper and hurry back to the car. (Never mind that as I went into the store I was deep breathing like a woman using La Maze during delivery.Which got me a few really strange looks.)After I finished scraping the car off I jumped in and raced off.

It wasn't until I got home that afternoon that I finally stripped off my sweatshirt to see what happened. To my surprise, despite the fact that neither my jacket nor my sweatshirt had been damaged there was a nice hole in my tee shirt the exact size of the re-bar along with dried blood. Underneath I found a three inch long scrape just outside of my left nipple. The bleeding had been blood seeping from the scrape.

That made me stop and think about how lucky I had been. IF the re-bar had hit me squarely in the chest, IF I hadn't worn layers of clothing supple enough to slide over each other, IF the clothes hadn't been tough enough to stop the bar from penetrating . . . I would've been in a world of hurt a lot worse than the aching I felt. As it is I got off lightly: a scrape, some bruising (which didn't show up until the next day), and one ruined tee shirt. I could have had broken ribs, a punctured lung, and possibly worse.

I still have a ton of problems but, right now, I think I'm lucky. Or more likely, blessed.

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